Not done lightly (2-B)

Alert Reader "Kyle" axed this in the comments:
Sounds fine. But can you give me an example of any circumstances under which it might be acceptable to leave a church before they ask you to? For instance, the leadership opts for infant baptism, or tongue talking, or inviting Bill Clinton to preach...
Our beloved reader Rachael Starke has already pointed us not only in the right direction but in the actually biblical direction. I will be more explicit for all of you.

Imagine you are sitting in a restaurant (because of course, you would never be seen in a bar) with a friend, and you start talking about marriage. And that friend says to you, "Kyle, when can I walk out on my marriage?"

Now, I am sure you're a right-minded person, and you say something like this: "well, never. Jesus was clear about that -- what God has joined together, let no man tear apart. It's your marriage, not some arrangement for convenience sake. No offense, of course -- why do you ask?"

And your friend looks at you a little put out. "So you're saying that if my wife is a prostitute, I can't leave?"

And you're a little shocked by that statement, so you ask: "Is she a prostitute?"

"I'm just sayin'," he responds, "what if she starts turning tricks in our house. Can I leave if she does that?"

"Why would she do that?" you ask. "Has she made a move in that direction? Is she placing ads on CraigsList or something?"

"How should I know," your friend says, "I hardly talk to her. I have other things to do -- like ministry. Like work. I have to provide for my family."

And you rightly supress a laugh there, because what he's talking about is wrecking his family -- when can he finally give up on his family. But you stick with him because you love him -- it's good to give a personal example in a time like this, so in the same way you think he should stick with his marriage and his wife, you stick with him.

"So you're saying that, since you don't have time to be in a fully-informed relationship with your wife, and that seems to leave the door open for all manner of things to creep in, you want to know when you're cleared to leave -- from a Christian perspective?"

"Well, when you put it that way ..." he says, a little angry with you.

"I'm not the one who put it that way, my friend," you respond pointedly.

And you would have done well to respond pointedly. Look: every time someone want to manage the normal Christian life from the perspective of the far extremes (wherever you chart those extremes), you get legalism -- because God knows we do not want to ever find ourselves near people who are doing things which are evil, like that publican over there with his head tilted down like he's asleep or something. So managing your relationship with your church by charting out points of no return after which you must leave is, frankly, anti-Biblical and anti-Gospel.

What if you instead were charting out the path to being closer to your church -- not the building, but the actual people in the household of God -- with points of no return after which there is no going back to being a lone ranger. If there's anything true about Paul's letter to Titus, it is that Paul sent Titus to Crete to "set things in order". But the way by which Titus is instructed to set things in order is to find the guys who are formed by the Gospel, make them the leaders, and then build a community in which guys like these are thereby replicated. Somebody, someplace, has to lead by example -- and luckily for us, Christ did.

LOVE SOMEBODY, for crying out loud. You know: LOVE. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers, in case you don't have your Bibles open. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We have a great savior, but he is also our exemplar, if we are really going to be like him.

He didn't leave when people turned out to be sinners. He wasn't surprised and taken aback and thereby hurt and therefore now jaded. Now you poersonally -- go and do the same.